Welcome to Empirical Purple

A blog by Simon Brady to cover a surprisingly wide range of geekiness, in a combination that no-one else does quite the same way. Probably. Either that, or it'll just be Simon talking about the likes of Football (usually the Soccer variety), PC & Tabletop Gaming, WWE, Movies, Music and occasionally even my actual job of Graphic Design, depending on what I'm up to in the world.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mjolnir, Muscles and Marvel

Now, I'm not a fan of the Thor character. He lurches from ye olde pompous goody-goody to lecherous drunken viking God, generally wandering aroumd being invulnerable and super-strong.

He's not really a sympathetic character, and I have no sympathy with him whatsoever.

In the new film, though, I really like him. The transition from arrogant jumped-up little prick to wise all-powerful badass is handled very nicely - if a little quickly. The special effects are just fine, but Sif and the Warriors Three are shoehorned in seemingly at random, though the leading characters of Thor and Jane Foster are cast just fine. I liked the fish out of water comedy that was dropped in, too, and think that young Thor will be an excellent part of the Avengers film.

It's a good movie, a solid 7 out of 10 and, as far as comic book adaptations go, it's well up there with the best of them.

This guy + Robert Downey Jr + the Agent Coulson guy + Scarlett Johansson + the Captain America/Johnny Storm guy... all they need to do is not mess up the Hulk's regular and angry forms, as well as supply decent set of villians, and The Avengers movie will be just great.

As long as Joss Whedon doesn't put a musical number in there, of course.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thrones starts very well

This won't be a love song to HBO and the first episode of their Game of Thrones, but neither is it a diatribe.

A fair old amount was shoehorned into that episode, along with a great deal that was randomly discarded. No mention of why Jaime's cloak was randomly white, along with the direwolf pups shoved upon the children for training within seconds of them being discovered. For people who haven't read the books, I can imagine that it was all a swirling entity of stuff they assume is going to be explained soon after.

Yet in that mash-up of character introductions were some beauties. For every shot of an un-named Jory Cassel standing and intently, silently staring as a reaction to something, there was Arya's character already fully developed.

Some of the acting was fairly terrible, too. Sean Bean's first couple of lines felt very forced, though he soon got into his noble stride, while Emilia Clarke's appearance in the first episode consisted of wide-eyed staring and not saying very much. It's not surprising, given the start of Danaerys' journey, but for someone who doesn't know she's meant to be one of the stars of the show, it'd be a strange introduction to an odd character.

Something else that stood out as strange, too, was the amount of flesh on display. Whether Emilia Clarke being stripped naked a couple of times, Tyrion's Northern whores, Lena Headey's backside or the Dothraki and their none, one- or two-breast displays, there was a lot of female flesh. It was kind-of randomly balanced out, though, by Robb, Theon and Jon stripped to the waist in order for a simple shave and a haircut, in a scene that felt completely dropped in, so as to lessen any claims of misogyny that are almost guaranteed to be leveled at it.

There were so many lovely touches, such as the friendship between Ned and Robert, Jaime's cocky attitude, Viserys' sheer malevolence, the sets, the costumes, the opening sequence, the Others...

Just tone down the boobs, and we'll be just fine.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The similarity of it all

So, on NationStates, I'm a fairly respected guy, I think. For my involvement in the Sports RP side of things, what with the five world titles, the kit-making, the Under-21 Championship running, the Presidency-presiding, and whatnot.

They even got me a game-wide commendation for it, which is pretty cool.

What made me think, however, is that our In-Character events, feuds, wars, alliances and the like are pretty much the exact same techniques as in any form of storytelling. We all, of course, seem to be desperate wannabe writers, performers and audience all in one. As an entity, we're like the entire WWE Universe, in front of and behind the camera, as well as watching on TV.

We're the audience, because we read the RPs and are on the receiving end of the IC personas, and then decide whether we like them or not (either for the IC content, the OOC intent behind it, or some combination thereof, which separates us into marks, smarts and smarks). We're also the performers - or rather, Sports Entertainers - because we're the ones doing the actions, pretending the guy we like is a nation of people we hate as we win or lose against them. To a certain extent, we're also the bookers. A lot of what we do can decide who is the next superstar striker, the useless full-back or the crazy goalkeeper. As in Pro Wrestling, what we want to happen may not always come to pass, if our characters don't get over with the audience, or if the results don't come the right way for us to RP around.

The only real difference is Margaret.

Margaret is our random number god (or goddess, if you're being gender-specific). Margaret's influence is there every time a scorinator generates its output. The world title you thought you were booked in to win - after winning 100% of your qualification and Finals matches up to the World Cup Final itself - suddenly swerves into defeat via a 2-0 choke.

Oh, World Cup 30 just called, and they want their scenario back. Grrr.

What I'm getting to, though, is that playing the heel is way more fun. As lovely as it must be to step into an arena and have a large chunk of people cheer for you, the idea that everything you do to rile that audience on purpose is working, greeted by a chorus of boos, means that you're doing your job right.

And, what's even better, is when you become such a good heel, that the audience think you're awesome, and start cheering for your appearances. The crowd has turned many a wrestling heel into a face before, whether it be the likes of The Rock, John Cena, Stone Cold, Edge, Triple H (and D-X in general) or, generally, any wrestler who's played a bad guy for most of a decade long run in the WWE, who's just so awesome that you can't help but like them.

So, Starblaydia is going back to being an evil nation. RAWRCRUSH came very easily, turning up the natural Starblaydi arrogance to eleven, and the 5 world championships, which is still a record, is ripe to be turned into '-A RECORD FIVE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS'. It's great fun being the bad guy, as everyone wants a shot at you, and everyone loves to get one over on you - if they can.

Starblaydia's going nasty, again. And I'm gonna love it. Now I just need to work it in to my RPing. Luckily, World Cup 55's RP thread is upon us, so I'm going there to think of something.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Edge's Retirement

Mr. Money in the Bank, The Rated R Superstar, The Ultimate Opportunist, Sexton Hardcastle(?!), Adam Copeland or just good old Edge, has had to retire from Pro Wrestling, citing a diagnosis of spinal stenosis.

Uncontrolable shaking and numbness in the hands must be a horrible thing to experience, especially when you know it's precisely because you've been performing at the job you love for over a decade. A broken neck, fractured skull, torn ACL, plus more muscle injuries and stitches than you can count has all added up to a condition that will only get worse the more he pounds his body in the ring.

A retirement from WWE, just when his partnership with Christian was really starting to light up the Smackdown! side of things, is a real blow. Edge going because of injury at any time is disappointing but just when he was getting something of a rejuvenation with his old friend, looking towards the next few PPVs, makes it doubly so. Smackdown, and the WWE in general, is now a much poorer place to be without his performances.

His retirement speech was genuinely heartwarming, especially when the crowd reaction nearly brought him to tears. A real testament to a guy who is, like us, a real fan of wrestling.

On a lighter note, how ludicrous does the long-haired version of Christian look in the old photos? Not a good look for Captain Charisma, not at all.

But, for the Tables, Ladders and Chairs, for the skills on the mic, the promos he cut, the hard work and commitment in the ring, the awesome shades and the laughs, gasps and sighs, there's just one thing to say:

Thank-you, Edge.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Back to Blood Bowl

As we gear up for the NAF Championship in early May, I've made sure that everyone who's going is getting back into the swing of playing Blood Bowl. We've got a mini tournament going on throughout April.

i am, of course, taking my Undead to the tournament, that's a no-brainer. Others have chosen their teams, while yet more are totally undecided. But the first week's results were:

Rich beat Grant 3-0
Paul beat Dan 3-2
Roy Beat Shorty 3-0*
Phil beat Me 1-0
Tom and Damo drew 1-1
Tim and Cabe drew 2-2
*Roy picked an ineligible skill for his Werewolf, so is docked 2x TDs.

So the next set of matches will see Rich v Paul, Grant V Dan, Roy v Phil, Me v Shorty, Tom v Tim and Damo v Cabe.

All very exciting, and perhaps I'll come up with something for the 'winner'. Team Captain, perhaps? I'll probably have to see who wins first before I decide on that, hehe.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Game of Throne: LCG

I don't mind card games, which is probably a legacy of Gin Rummy with my family, Top Trumps at school and Poker at University. I have, however, never ventured into the likes of Magic:The Gathering.

My problem with that game, as well as the likes of Monsterpocalypse or Heroclix, is the collectable side of the game. When I buy something, I don't want a lottery ticket for my goods. I don't want to go into a shop, pick up a box and hope that the packet of crisps I'm after is in there, only to find that it's washing up liquid.

The Collectible Card Game (CCG) format is an entirely pointless system, only rewarding those who are lucky enough to get the cards they want, or have enough disposable income to buy either enough of the packs to find the gems, or buy particular cards for inflated prices.

The Living Card Game (LCG) format, on the other hand, is much much better. You want a specific card? It's in a specific pack. Sure, you may not get as many of them in the early packs as you want, and you'll get cards you're not really bothered by, but there's no randomness. No disappointment that you've bought something that's turned out to be a waste of time and money.

The Game of Thrones LCG, which I got for my birthday, is fantastic. Whether in simple 2 player head-to-head Joust mode, or in 3-4 player Melee mode, the game is fairly simple to learn, but incredibly in-depth. Immense amounts of strategy, tactics and decision-making go into each round, along with the good-old luck of the draw, as each House vies for enough power to win the game.

Definitely my sort of thing, based on exactly my sort of series, bringing it all to life through yet another medium. And, thanks to the TV series, lots of people are interested in having a go at it, so it's all good!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Game of Thrones: TV

I'm a skeptic by nature. Assuming that X, Y or Z is going to be awesome 'just because' has never really been a part of my life.  So, when news of a TV adaptation of the first book of the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series, Game of Thrones, was announced, I was glad.

Glad because something I love, and have loved since around '96/'97 when I picked up the first book in my local mobile library, was being adapted to a different medium so more people could enjoy it. It wasn't automatically going to be fabulous, because God knows how many TV and movie adaptations of books, comics, and the like have turned into utter, utter shite.

But, slowly, as news has filtered out, as the hype machine has been boosted by fan websites, Twitter, Facebook, and HBO themselves, it's clear that HBO (and by extension, Sky Atlantic) have ploughed a lot of money into this in order for it to be a success. Sixty million dollars for the first series has been quoted, running at six million dollars an episode.

All those zeros means that they've obviously decided to do it properly. The casting, the script, the locations, the costumes, the scenery, the CGI, the production - all of them look excellent. There's no way to perfectly adapt what I saw in my head onto the TV screens, but holy moly, they look like they've come close. So close as to - based on the trailers, featurettes and 15 minute preview of the first episode - not matter a jot.

And it's got Sean Bean in it as, essentially, the main character. Sharpe/Aragorn/Ned Stark/Awesome. You'd almost expect the symbol of House Stark to be a whippet, not a direwolf.

I am so looking forward to this.

But, being HBO, I'm hoping that they've not made too much of the sex and violence, just so it doesn't turn into a fantasy version of Spartacus - which itself was just soft porn, and therefore pointless. Fingers (and perhaps on-screen legs) crossed.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Have these got Better, or Worse?

I speak, of course, of the phenomenon that is Wrestlemania. No longer do I stay up until three or four in the morning after spending someone else's hard-earned cash on a PPV. Now I sit back, relax, and watch it at a convenient time.

First, the Rock did his thing. I was hoping for him to at least have dressed smartly, rather than just putting a tracksuit top over what he's been wearing on RAW for the last few weeks. It was obvious, it had a lot of pauses, but it's what the Rock does, so we love him for it.

The first match was set up thanks to the last PPV I blogged about. Edge is always great to watch, and the extra spectacle of Christian being in his corner (love that 'Peep Show' T-shirt) was great to see. The audience were definitely playing off what Edge and Alberto Del Rio were doing in the ring, and it was a great match to open with. Strange to see the winners of the Royal Rumble and one of the Elimination Chamber matches competing for the Smackdown! branded belt in the very first match, but again it was there to get the crowd pumping. Shame about bashing the Roller, though (Do it, Do it!).

Cody Rhodes... well, the less said about his gimmick, the better. It's amazing how someone disfigured, hiding his horrible, formerly gorgeous face from the world, wrestles in just a set of briefs. Not so shy after all. Rey Mysterio's Captain America costume was also only so-so, too. No real rhythm to the match, just Rey doing his high-flying thing, before Cody pounded on him for a bit as he took a breather, then back to the acrobatics. The long-hold superplex from the top rope was nice, though. Poor ending, for a poor match, with poor commentary.

The eight man 'battle' was totally and utterly pointless. That is all that needs to be said. Snoop's cameo skit with Teddy Long and Rock's skit with Eve were both of more relevance and interest than that piece of garbage. Pee-wee Herman was about as pointless. Strike One.

Randy Orton has been on a long road from being the good guy, to an idiot, and back to some positive heat. CM Punk, on the other hand, has gone from hardcore smart fan favourite to random idiot with am even more random crew of black T-shirted totally not DX followers. We had one match of Del Rio working Edge's arm, then Rhodes and Mysterio working each other's knee and face, respectively, and then this one, of working Orton's knee. We get it, WWE, injured limbs and body parts can be exploited. Very good, move on. If we actually had any hold specialists left in their locker, it could have been better utilised. Still, nice to see Orton pick up the win, and we'll see if he can be the face in a future title match.

Nice to see Jerry Lawler get his Wrestlemania moment, sort of, but oh dear god that Anonymous RAW General Manager gimmick with the e-mails is still completely ludicrous. How battered must Steve Austin be, too, to need a ride down to the ring, pull a few stunners, drink some beer, then ride off? A boring match, thanks to Michael Cole, made pointless by the raft of gimmicks. Strike Two.

Next up, the Undertaker's annual wheeling out from the old people's home in order to defend his streak, combined with Triple H seeing how long he can hold water in his mouth for. The Undertaker's four minute entrance was longer than the 8-man squash match, and that was very nearly Strike Three. Were it not for Taker's incredible match against Shawn Michaels in WC25, I'd have switched off by now. The idea of this, of course, was to capture some of that magic again, but Triple H, for all his ability, is no HBK. Most of the time, it was two old men laying on the floor recovering, in between spots of awesome. The Undertaker certainly deserved his ride out of the arena, though.

It's hard not to root for either John Morrison and Trish Stratus, but when they have their 'celebrity' tag team partner in some tubby short bint from Jersey Shore, it's not difficult to vote for 'all mangled and killed'. At least it was mercifully short, once the Chick Kick, Starship Pain and some random cartwheel into back-flip round-off thing came out.

To the Main Event, the Miz's pre-match promo was a very good one, while John Cena's tribute to God giving him his talent was totally choke-worthy. Makes me glad he lost, in fact, as it was the most self-serving 'look at me, I'm humble' crap I've seen in a long while. Go Miz! As for the match itself... well, the less said about that, the better. Again, the Main Event doesn't live up to it's billing.

But at least Cena didn't win yet another match at Wrestlemania. His continual victories were getting rather boring. Much nicer to see the Rock standing victorious at the end - let's see that again in Miami in a year's time, thank-you very much.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Face to the World

Oh, Wayne. Wayne, Wayne, Wayne. You do shame us so.

Yet again, irrelevant to the performance, "this generation's Gazza" proves that he's equally as big a fruit loop as the great blubbering Tynesider. Gazza's self-destructive element has been self-evident, while Rooney's only surfaces every, oh I dunno, couple of matches.

This is a man who can get booked in a Qualifier against Wales - for no reason other than his own petulance - when we're 2-0 up after 15 minutes and cruising as if it was 5-0.

This is a man who, after an absolutely abysmal team performance in the World Cup against Algeria (with the match finishing 0-0), decides that the booing fans - who had been loyally supporting them for the 90 minutes when it actually mattered - deserved a ticking off for their disloyalty. The very cheek of them, to boo him and his feted, millionaire teammates when they'd been playing worse than a hungover Sunday league team.

A man who, when 'celebrating' his hat trick in front of his own fans, feels it more appropriate to chuck a torrent of abuse at a cameraman on the sideline, rather than enjoy the fact his 14-minute hat-trick has just turned around a fairly poor 2-0 defeat into what would become a 4-2 victory.

There's no doubting his ability, energy and general football-playing prowess. He is also overly aggressive, petulant and arrogant, and despite a decent number of red and yellow cards (plus a good deal that he earned but didn't get - elbow at Wigan, anyone?) he doesn't seem to have the intelligence to learn from it. Probably because he has millions of pounds.

At least he's not as bad as John Terry, though.